We collaboratively develop and test models for optimal cannabis policy (retail practices, marketing & taxation), based on the best available scientific evidence, with the goal of reducing harms, youth use and problem use and promoting social justice and equity.  Our work includes:

Model Ordinances

Developing model local ordinances for licensing cannabis retailers, marketing, and general and special taxes on cannabis.


Carrying out research with local and national stakeholders and experts to identify best practices


Legal Analyses

Developing legal analyses of relevant issues for licensing, constraints on marketing, and taxation.


Technical Resources

Managing a national Listserv, and providing webinars, presentations, visits & other technical assistance tools to support communities, educate policymakers, and exchange experiences & questions.

Public Health Input

Providing public health oriented input to regulatory processes and supporting other stakeholders to do so.


Getting it Right from the Start project is funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, without whose generous support our work would not be possible.

Our research is also generously funded by the following:

  • Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program
  • National Institutes of Drug Abuse

However the opinions expressed in our work reflect the positions of the project and do not necessarily represent the official views of any other organization.

Our Team

 Lynn Silver

Lynn Silver

MD, MPH, FAAP; Principal Investigator


Dr. Lynn Silver, a pediatrician, researcher and public health advocate, is Senior Advisor at the Public Health Institute and Clinical Professor at University of California San Francisco. She focuses on policies to prevent noncommunicable disease, its risk factors and inequitable impact. Silver was Assistant Health Commissioner of New York City under Mayor Bloomberg, leading innovative policy work such as the nation’s first trans fat ban, calorie labeling law and the National Salt Reduction Initiative and supported innovative tobacco control policies and programs.  She served as Health Officer for Sonoma County, California. She founded and co-chairs the California Alliance for Funding Prevention. At the Public Health Institute (PHI) she has worked on the Berkeley coalition that lead the nation’s first successful soda tax effort, and collaborated on soda tax campaigns in other cities and states. She recently completed evaluation of the Berkeley soda tax and is evaluating San Francisco’s first of its kind warning label for SSB advertising, as well as researching other regulatory policy issues in Latin America. Her interest in local marijuana regulation arose from her experience as a public health official  and belief that more public health oriented measures are needed now to protect against youth and problem use in the setting of a rapidly expanding new legal industry for a  product with significant harms. She received her MD and MPH degrees and pediatric training from the Johns Hopkins University and was previously visiting scholar at the Karolinska Institute.

Alisa Padon

Alisa Padon

PhD; Research Scientist


Dr. Alisa Padon completed her doctorate in public health from the department of Health, Behavior & Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and finished a postdoctoral fellowship at the Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. Her past research focused on youth-targeted marketing and promotions of alcohol and tobacco products, examining the intersection between the unique vulnerabilities of youth and the psychosocial and neurocognitive appeals and techniques used in marketing. She is now translating that work as a research scientist at the Public Health Institute, into the regulation of sugar sweetened beverages and legalized recreational cannabis.

Aurash Jason Soroosh

Aurash Jason Soroosh

MSPH, RD; Policy Research Associate


Aurash Jason Soroosh works as a Policy Research Associate at the Public Health Institute. He is a Registered Dietitian and received a Master of Science in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Before coming to PHI, Jason was a Cannabis Product Safety Analyst at the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission where he co-authored edible cannabis product regulations for the state. He also served as a Co-Chair of the Association of Food and Drug Officials (AFDO) Cannabis Committee. Originally from California, Jason is a formally trained chef who spent nearly a decade in the Cannabis Industry developing a business that grew medical cannabis and produced edible cannabis products.

Bethany Simard

Bethany Simard

MPH; Research Scientist


Bethany Simard earned a Master in Public Health in Epidemiology at the University of Michigan and has a strong background in longitudinal and repeated cross-sectional statistical methods, such as generalized linear models and interrupted time-series. Prior to working at the Public Health Institute, Bethany was a research analyst for Truth Initiative, a non-profit focused on preventing youth and young adult use of tobacco and nicotine products through attitude and norm change. In this role, she evaluated Truth’s anti-tobacco/nicotine and anti-opioid campaigns targeting youth and young adults and examined related hypotheses, trends, and policies for scientific publication. She joined “Getting it Right from the Start” as a research scientist to investigate the natural experiment of California’s unique patchwork of local cannabis laws and regulations on youth health and health disparities over time.

Kiara Gonzalez

Kiara Gonzalez

Health Equity Program Coordinator


Kiara Gonzalez provides communications and administrative support to the project. She received her Bachelor of Science in Integrative Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. Gonzalez has experience working with non-profits and health initiative programs such as the Berkeley Student Cooperative and the Healthy Hearts Clinic at the Children’s Hospital Oakland. Her interests include public health and immigration reform. She hopes to one day aid in the healing of burn victims as a practicing physician.

Zack Kaldveer

Zack Kaldveer

Health Equity Communications Manager


Zack develops and maintains programmatic communications systems and infrastructure, coordinates with partner organizations, and develops marketing strategies, establishing media relations and creating promotional materials. Zack has worked as an advocate, writer, and strategist on a diverse range of local, statewide, and national issues including environmental, social, and economic justice, consumer rights, and public health. Zack received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at San Diego in Communications, and a Master’s Degree from San Diego State University, also in Communications.